Motivation Articles

The Before-During-After Journal

The Write Way to Build Your Intrinsic Motivation

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By Dean Anderson, Behavioral Psychology Expert         
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Maybe you'll notice that you actually prefer guilt and frustration to the pride, accomplishment, and pleasure that come with doing what you set out to do. Crazy as it sounds, lack of motivation can be related to secretly wanting to feel and think negatively about yourself. You may prefer these feelings, as unpleasant as they are, to the anxiety that comes with making big changes and opening yourself up to new possibilities in your life. If this rings a bell for you, you may need to work on getting comfortable with positive thoughts and feelings about yourself.

Either way, paying attention to what's going on inside when you act is the first step towards uncovering your own intrinsic motivation to accomplish your goals.  If you can commit to keeping your Before-During-After journal faithfully—even for a short time, like two or three weeks—I’ll bet big bucks that your problems with feeling unmotivated will happen much less often and be much easier to deal with.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • MOINSDEMOI
    Thanks for a spot-on article. I continually lose my focus and need to keep my eye on the prize so I printed this article as a visual reminder.



    - 4/20/2016 11:22:26 AM
  • Thank you so much for a great article! I just heard a podcast about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and never thought part of my problem is that I look only for extrinsic motivation - fit into smaller clothes or scale number. You've helped to open my eyes to intrinsic motivation by keeping a BDA journal. - 1/20/2016 4:30:46 PM
  • Whether you're worried about calories, or your overall health, you should consider journaling anything regarding your health. Add how you feel after exercise, returning from a medical appointment, sleep, etc. - 1/19/2016 11:26:54 PM
  • ANGIE_E
    Another advantage of journaling is that you can more easily identify what works for you and what doesn't. I did really well with my nutrition several years ago and got really lean....then I fell off the proverbial wagon. I want to get back to where I was before and referring back to my journal entries at the time really helped me get back on track! - 1/18/2016 8:01:51 PM
  • Liked this...thanks... - 1/18/2016 1:46:20 PM
  • I am the person described at the beginning of the article. Surprising, because I had thought I was internally motivated. But yes, I want to give up a lot lately, both the exercise and on the right food. The food is more common for me, but I've always loved lifting weights if nothing else, so I'm definitely off track right now.

    So, I am going to try this journal, which may get me to focus, or think of my goals more often. In any case, I think it will help! Thanks for the great idea, Coach Anderson! - 1/18/2016 12:13:28 PM
  • This.....was a really good article. Thanks. - 11/1/2015 11:44:30 PM
  • KIMOOKI
    I didn't know this article has been on SparkPeople so long! I did discover the power of journaling and ritual (Twyla Tharp on creativity) when I committed to everyday activity until I turned 50- a bet I could do it (160 some odd days) with my daughter because she went to live in Japan after high school graduation and I pinky swore her to doing it. I did it. And I'll be 51 in 3 months, still going strong. My motivation turned intrinsic real fast, and I continuously monitor motivation(s). What amazing changes and recognition I've gotten, but not at all on the faster timetable I naively thought too many times. Worth it? yes. Hard work? some days more mental than -? Yes. But I did it and I need no real recognition for it. Intrinsic motivation met. - 11/1/2015 6:57:31 PM
  • Were you listening in on my lack-of-motivatio
    n conversation with my family last night??? (she says with a smile) I'm stuck in the downward spiral of I don't commit because I don't see results (because I don't commit..). I'm going to try the BDA journaling technique to see what patterns surface. - 11/1/2015 3:56:03 PM
  • I have read much about dieting over the years, but have never heard about a before-during-aft
    er journal. Love to learn something new. Thanks for the great article. - 11/1/2015 1:50:56 PM
  • I love this idea! Just found an online journal site and set it up and wrote my first entry. Thank you for sharing this today! - 11/1/2015 9:11:26 AM
  • OH, I always wonder what happened to Coach Dean. Is he still alive? So many changes on SP, and people just "disappear"?! - 11/1/2015 1:00:10 AM
  • BRIMAR56
    I love Dean Anderson's articles. Journaling works for me very well. I lost 25 pounds but put it back on because I got tired of "watching" it and I quit smoking. I joined Spark People to get motivated again. - 10/7/2015 6:47:51 PM
  • DELAR1
    WHAT A GREAT ARTICLE. NEW MEMBER WILL START TOMORROW WITH A JOURNAL - 3/7/2015 9:03:45 PM
  • This article hit dead on for me about being uncomfortable with change. I do need to be open and stop judging and becoming defeated. I think I will try this journal. Can't hurt. - 8/8/2014 10:15:20 PM

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